The Mountain State, not the Extraction State

A case where a wind farm appears to be the less damaging alternative: Tom Zeller, Jr. reports on efforts to forestall mountaintop removal mining at Coal River Mountain in Raleigh County. W. Va.

The idea for a wind project first surfaced in 2006, after David Orr, a professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, approached researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy, about its analysis of wind potential around the country.

“We were supporting lots of groups trying to stop mountaintop removal and to do remediation at former sites,” Professor Orr says. “But we realized that, while that’s fine, it’s hard to get something done if you’re always just against something. So we began looking for alternatives to mountaintop mining.”